31 October 2012

Harper Government Ends Interlibrary Loan Services

The following announcement on the end of ILL services by Library and Archives Canada appears on an obscure part of the organization web site. No posting on the LAC main blog or in the news section. No announcement by the Minister.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will end in December 2012.  
Users of LAC's current services should note the following dates:
November 13, 2012: End of loan requests from international libraries.
November 16, 2012: End of renewals. All items loaned after this date will be non-renewable.
December 11, 2012: End of loan requests, location searches, and ILL-related photocopying services.
LAC's ILL listserv (CANRES-L) and Canadian Library Gateway also will be archived in December 2012.
LAC will continue to facilitate interlibrary loan activities among other institutions through the ILL form in AMICUS, and through ongoing administration of Canadian Library Symbols.

Suffolk History, Gazetteer, and Directory, 1844

Ancestry have updated 1844 publication on the English county of Suffolk. It is now OCRd. As is typical for this type of publication of the era, only residents at the top of the social scale are mentioned in the directory.

Sensing War: Children’s Memories of Wartime Atlantic Canada, 1939-1945

Of more interest to family historians that most in this year's series of Shannon Lectures "Making Sense: History and the Sensory Past" is Friday's presentation on “Sensing War: Children’s Memories of Wartime Atlantic Canada, 1939-1945”. It will be presented by Barbara Lorenzkowski, Concordia University
at 3:00pm, in room 303, Paterson Hall, Carleton University

In the port cities of Atlantic Canada, children and youth grew up in a self-declared battle front during the years of the Second World War. For these youngsters, the war had a raw immediacy; for the Battle of the Atlantic transformed the waters and streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia beyond recognition. It was not just the navy, army, air force, and merchant marine that clogged the harbours and city streets; an unprecedented influx of military vehicles, as well, invaded the city, curtailing children’s range of movement and spaces of play. This lecture is an exercise in sensuous geography. Drawn from my larger work on the spaces of childhood in Atlantic Canada, it listens to close to fifty childhood recollections of the wartime Atlantic. In making sense of the “war zone” that were Halifax and St. John’s, my interview partners evoked the allure of nocturnal urban spaces, the tastes of cigarette buds, the sounds of German U-boat attacks, the furtive touching of a father’s letter, and the stunning sight of the Bedford Basin and the St. John’s harbour, filled to the rim with war convoys. If, as Proust held in Remembrance of Things Past, the senses provide a key to both memory and the emotions, these oral recollections serve as a reminder that the spaces of childhood are very much “sensescapes” – recalled all the more vividly if interview partners had been granted (or secretively claimed) the freedom to roam in their cities at war. 
Barbara Lorenzkowski teaches at Concordia University in Montreal.  She is the author of Sounds of Ethnicity: Listening to German North America, 1850-1914 (University of Manitoba Press, 2010).  In 2005, she joined Concordia University where she acted as program chair for the 2010 annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association.  Her current research project is a FQRSC-funded study on childhood, space, and memory in wartime Atlantic Canada, tentatively entitled “The Children’s War: Growing Up in the Port Cities of St. John’s, Halifax and Saint John.”  This study is based on close to one hundred oral history interviews conducted over the past three years. Her Shannon Lecture will investigate the sensory dimensions of these childhood experiences.

Book Review: Genealogy: Essential Research Methods

Genealogy: Essential Research Methods
Helen Osborn
Hardback: 272p
Publisher: Robert Hale (October 31, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 9780709091974
Cover price: 14.99 UK pounds
Helen Osborn, co-founder of Pharos Tutors, is a London-area based professional genealogist and historical researcher since 1998, and an AGRA member. She was in Ottawa last year speaking at the BIFHSGO conference which is when I first learned she was working on this book. The wait has been worthwhile.
At first blush, cracking open the cover and leafing through, one is reminded of an old-fashioned text book -- a single column layout, tables and gray-scale illustrations in the form of family trees. As with a text the strength is in the content.
Helen sets out to help mend the gap in the existing British genealogical literature for those who want to advance their family history research skills, rather than just find out about another set of possible websites to search.
The body of the book is in 10 chapters:

1. The Challenge of Genealogy
2. Effective Searching – Technique and Belief
3. The Records Framework
4. Find What You Need
5. Has It Been Done Before?
6. Analyzing and Working with Documents
7. Planning and Problem Solving
8. Recording Information and Citing Sources
9. Organize, Store and Pass On
10. Prove Your Research and Meet Your Challenges
I'd hoped to review the book quickly but that was not to be. Like a text the content is substantive and you find yourself frequently pausing to reflect on the ideas and techniques. If you're the type of person who likes to mark significant passages make sure to keep the highlighter at the ready.

I found the chapter Planning and Problem Solving particularly strong. It presents a source list to encourage you to broaden your search and expand away from well-known sources, or simply those you've overlooked, under the headings of dates, geography, census and civil registration, parish records, ecclesiastical jurisdictions, manorial and to estate records, legal jurisdictions, contemporary printed sources, migration, national sources, printed sources and other help, and online catalogs.

Well-versed in the orthodoxy of genealogical research Helen is an advocate for the Genealogical Proof Standard, not widely accepted in the UK. She also favours strong citations a la Mills. While she points out the benefits of adopting a professional's practice she also understands that hobby genealogists will often shun their labouriousness.

In places, based on her practical experience, she goes beyond where I've heard other professionals venture. Some of her advice might cause the ground to shake above the graves of notable genealogists. On page 79:
"When you have a reliable printed source, then it may do just as well as the original document. For example, many of the original English 17th-century hearth tax returns are now being published as part of the scholarly project organized by the University of Roehampton. There is no longer any real need for the average genealogist to go and check the original hearth tax returns for the counties that have been covered."
I can wholehearted recommend this book to all those who are, or aspire to be, serious about exploring English and Welsh family history.

30 October 2012


The NGS blog lists some resources for disasters your ancestors may have lived through:

GenDisastersDiseases, Disasters & Distress: Bad For Your Ancestors, Good For Your Genealogical ResearchTop 10 Deadliest U.S. Natural DisastersTimelines of Historic Disasters & Epidemics
For Canada take a look at http://web.ncf.ca/jonesb/DisasterPaper/disasterpaper.html

Thanks to Gail Dever for the tip.

Free Crossover for Mac License

Here's an announcement from RootsMagic that mau be of interest to those using Mac computers, perhaps even if you don't use RootsMagic.

We often get asked if RootsMagic will run on a Mac. We are working on a Mac version, but it is slow going because we have to not only rewrite the program, but most of the libraries we use as well. We do tell people that it *is* possible to run RootsMagic on a Mac using a program called Crossover.

Crossover usually costs $39.95 or more, but the company that produces it just sent us an email offering a 12 month license for FREE for one day only (that's a $59.95 value). And even better, if you already own Crossover, you can take advantage of this offer to extend your existing license another 12 months for free.

To get Crossover for free, visit this page:


on October 31st (this Wednesday). That is the ONLY day you can get it for free, so don't put it off or forget about it.

If you have friends or family that use a Mac and want to be able to run RootsMagic, please let them know about this one time offer, which is available to anyone that wants it.


Rosemary Morgan discovers her criminal ancestor

If you haven't discovered the lawbreaker in your family tree there's a good chance you haven't looked hard enough. Many of our ancestors had brushes with the law, if only for something as serious as my Church of England minister ancestor's transgression, keeping a dog without a licence.

London genealogist Rosemary Morgan has posted on her blog the story of finding her transgressor and learning the lesson "it always pays to send off for death certificates, even if you think you know the date of death from other records. There is often more to learn."

I can think of an occurrence when having resisted I eventually sent for the death certificate and didn't learn anything significant. It's probably an exception, the chances of that happening being as great as those of not finding a lawbreaker in your family tree.

Stuck at home?

If you find yourself at home, and still have power and internet, consider using the opportunity to take advantage of the online video and audio programs offered by FamilySearch at https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/home.html

Listed by country, topic and skill level, the resources cover a wide range of subjects, including “England Probate Records: From 1858 to the Present” and courses for beginners. Several include handouts.

Thanks to Gail Dever for the suggestion.

29 October 2012

The Rangitane Riddle

I'm giving a shout out to a book of personal interest as my father was involved -- not much to do with Canadian family history except had things turned out a little differently I wouldn't be.

The Royal Mail Ship Rangitane was a large, fast, majestic, two-funnelled ocean liner; an icon of the golden age of sea travel. Early in the Second World War she was intercepted at night and sunk by two small, slow, scruffy German raiders disguised as Japanese merchant traders, far from the main theatre of war. Why and how did this happen?
Was it true that they knew the wherabouts of Rangitane? Were there really secret agents feeding the Germans with information? Had British secret codes been compromised? Why did the raiders sail over a thousand miles out of their way to release the majority of the survivors on a remote British island while others were shipped back to POW camps in Germany? This is the Rangitane Riddle.
Read more, and order The Rangitane Riddle online from author Trevor Bell, at www.rangitane.co.uk/

Ancestry at 40% off for "new" members

At the Canadian War Museum on Sunday I picked up this card with a not to be missed special - Ancestry World edition at 40% off.

The small print reads "40% off Canada Deluxe Membership offer price: $71.40 valid from June 12, 2012 - January 6, 2013. Annual memberships will be billed in one payment. Offer only available by following the link above (www.ancestry.ca/1812) and for new subscribers only and not for renewal of current memberships. To ensure that you get continuous access to Ancestry.ca, your membership will be renewed automatically at the end of your subscription period and your payment method will be debited at the standard rate applicable at the time. You can cancel your subscription any time by visiting My Account and clicking on ’Cancel Subscription‘ or by calling 1-800-958-9073 (toll free from Canada) 10am - 10pm EST Monday to Friday and 10am - 6pm EST Saturday and Sunday (English Only)."

If you're already a subscriber and your membership expires before January 6 use this to bargain for a better price.

28 October 2012

Museum of Civilization finally acquires Empress of Ireland collection

Article from the Ottawa Citizen by Don Butler on the end of a long controversary on the acquisition of articfacts recovered from the Empress of Ireland http://goo.gl/bo7WQ

Canada’s Great War Album

The Great War Album is a new initiative from Canada's History Magazine.

"It’s been nearly 100 years since the “War to End All Wars.” And while the veterans are gone, their memory lives on. In 2014, Canada’s History will honour the men and women who together helped win WWI with a new book, Canada’s Great War Album.
We need your help.
Send us scanned WWI photos, letters, or mementos from your family's collection and we’ll include them in our new book. From the front lines, to the home-front — help ensure these great Canadians are never forgotten."
More information here and here.

Thanks to Brenda Turner for the tip.

Legacy Irish Webinars

Judith Eccles Wight, a highly experienced genealogist with the Ancestry company ProGenealgists, is on the agenda to give two Irish themed webinars sponsored by Legacy Family Tree.

Next Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 2:00 PM Eastern

Breaking Down Your Irish Brick Wall. Where do you turn when you can't find your Irish ancestors in civil registration, church records or what few censuses survive? Experienced researchers dive right in to the Irish estate records. There is a surprising array of material in estate records that can be used to document the tenants who lived on the estates that covered rural Ireland. In this webinar you will learn how to identify the estate where your ancestor lived, repositories where estate records might be found, and what types of records were kept.

On Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM Eastern

Researching Your Irish Ancestors: Beyond the Basics. As difficult as Irish research is, we can overcome its hurdles if we have a better understanding of the idiosyncrasies of Irish given names, surnames, and place names. Our speaker, Judy Wight, solved the case of Delia Holland - in Ireland she was known as Bridget Houlihan. This webinar discusses situations you may encounter with names and places and provides resources for overcoming these problems.

Register in advance at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/webinars.asp

A reminder that a colleague from ProGenealogists, Kyle Betit, will soon be making presentations in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. See the previous blog posting here.

AFHS Chinook

The Fall (October) 2012 issue of Chinook, the quarterly publication of the Alberta Family Histories Society, features articles on The Role of DNA in Genealogical Research. Here's the complete table of contents.

President’s Message – Lorna Laughton; Editor’s Observations – Wayne Shepheard
Call for Artricles – Find YOUR Tree in the Forest; Local Resources and Archives
Discovering Cousins with Autosomal DNA Testing for Genealogy – CeCe Moore
DNA and Genealogy Reference Books – Linda Murray
Computer Tricks – Jim Benedict
Autosomal DNA: The New Revolution – Katherine Hope Borges
Looking for Phila Garratt’s Mother – Lorna Laughton
The Elusive Lawrence Granger – Diane Granger
Young Genealogy Detectives: Family Photos to Link Generations – Claire Brisson-Banks
Expanding the Concept of Family History and Relationships Through DNA – Ugo Perego
What’s Out There – Linda Murray
From the Geneasphere: Quick Guide to Genetic Genealogy Resources –
Joan Miller and CeCe Moore
Budget Cuts at LAC – Laura Kirbyson
Tragedy on the River – Karen Lee
AFHS Projects – Heather Williams; Periodicals Place: The Breeze and Chinook
Calgary Public Library – Christine Hayes
Events – Laura Kirbyson
AFHS Membership Information & Form
AFHS Publications for Sale & Order Form
AFHS Objectives; Contact Information; Board of Directors and Committees.

Are you interested to see what articles are being published by other societies?
If you're an editor of a family history society publication would you like to publicize the table of contents?

27 October 2012

How DNA can help your Family Tree Research

An exceptionally clear four part video presentation on genetic genealogy by Maurice Gleeson of the Spearin Surname Project.

Each part is about 15 minutes so if time is limited go to part four which has an interesting example of using autosomal DNA to discover an unexpected relationship. It ends with a quick summary of all four parts.

TNA Podcast: Keeping it in the family: professional dynasties in 19th century England

This podcast of a presentation given on October 4, 2012 by Michael Moss, University of Glasgow; Laurence Brockliss and Simon Dixon of the University of Oxford looks at the professions from the mid-19th century. The professions include lawyers, doctors, religious ministers and teachers, as well as newer service providers such as accountants, bankers and civil engineers.

Using sources familiar to genealogists the pilot project finds they tended to form a caste within the middle class, separate from merchants and entrepreneurs, with children tending to stay in the profession and marry within that circle. The project is being expanded to examine a wider range of locations using techniques pioneered by the Tasmanian Founders and Survivors initiative.


26 October 2012

WDYTYA?Live 22-24 Feb 2013

I've now received confirmation from Else Churchill, Genealogist with the Society of Genealogists, that I'll be an official part of this event - giving a presentation at 2 pm on Saturday 23 February.

There's not much information on the website at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/ as I write except that the theme for 2013 is Immigration and Emigration. I'm told detailed information is coming very soon. The site does have quite a bit of information on the 2012 event, which I attended, including recordings of some of the presentations given at the time.

It's a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of as part of a British research trip. It's off-season for tourism. Prices including airfares are at their lowest and there's respite from Canada's cold.

Ancestry updates Warwickshire records

The bulk of the records in the newly updated Ancestry database Warwickshire, England, Occupational and Quarter Session Records, 1662-1866 are for the late 18th century, predating the census and civil registration.
The complete list of sources indexed with number of browse files in parenthesis, is: Boat Owners 1795-1796  (186); Flax Bounty 1774-1797 (1612); Freeholders 1710-1760 (249); Freemasons 1799-1857 (189); Gamekeepers' Deputations  (718); Gamekeepers´ Records  1744-1888 (1106); Hair Powder Certificates 1795-1797   (146); Hearth Tax Returns 1662-1673 (1110); Jurors Lists 1696 (142); Jurors Lists 1704 (141); Jurors Lists 1772-1778 (193); Jurors Lists 1779-1787 (232); Jurors Lists 1788-1794 (212); Printing press owners records (no browse file), 1799-1866.

Despite the smaller number of pages for the 18th century jurors lists they contain names of more people than the flax bounty file which is name sparse. The 17th century hearth tax returns, Warwickshire is not (yet?) available at the University of Roehampton Health Tax Online site, are also name dense but rather disappointing in the amount of information provided.

Out of the Trenches

Library and Archives Canada has made available on its YouTube channel a short video produced by the Pan-Canadian Documentary Heritage Network. LAC is one of the five network partners.

Using the First World War as the topic for this proof-of-concept digital resources are linked to develop to build up a picture as illustrated by the history developed of a native volunteer who died serving with the CEF.

Technical background is at http://www.canadiana.ca/en/pcdhn-lod

Will this become an element of Canada's approach to commemorating The Great War?

25 October 2012

An Update on the US National Digital Newspaper Program

A reminder of what Canadians are being deprived of owing to Library and Archives Canada's refusal to promote newspaper digitization.


FMP adds to Stepney records

Another 20,000 new baptism records are now available at Find My Past for the parish of St Dunstan, Stepney: 10,051 records for the period 1697-1704; 10,034 records for the period 1704-1712.

Library Vertical Files: an overlooked resource

In the early days of my interest in family history, searching for a document left by Ezekiel Stone Wiggins, I made a significant breakthrough by finding a vertical file at a New Brunswick public library.

Vertical files are folders containing material grouped by subject. If you're looking for information of significance for the local community, and sometimes beyond, a quick check of the local library's holdings of vertical files may be productive. They are rarely comprehensive, usually made up of clippings from newspapers and magazines, but you may find other material including, as I did with Wiggins, a several page unpublished manuscript.

Unfortunately, budget constraints mean that fewer libraries now compile vertical files but most still maintain their legacy collection. They are little publicized.

Even if your ancestor was not sufficiently prominent to merit a vertical file for him or herself they may have played a part in a company or event documented in such a file. The reference librarian in the community where an ancestor lived can be your best friend in searching out these resources.

Bill C-321

There's a small amount of good news in the unanimous approval in the House of Commons at third reading of private member's Bill C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials).

It clarifies the definition of library materials to eliminate confusion over what qualifies for library materials reduced postage rates,  "books, magazines, records, CDs, CD-ROMs, audiocassettes, videocassettes, DVDs and other audiovisual materials and other similar library materials."

It makes provision for reduced mailing rates for library materials; however, the actual rates are unspecified.

It provides for periodic review by Parliament of the operation of reduced rates system.

The Act now moved to the Senate for consideration.

24 October 2012


Is the name Mogridge, Craze, Delbridge or Luttrell in your family tree? Do you have ancestry from Dunster, Somerset, where those names are prominent?

As Dunster is mentioned in the Domesday Book you could have distant ancestry there, even though the population today is less than 1,000.

Tim Taylor, creator of Time Team, has a new project with Dunster as the first village of interest. Follow on Twitter at @DigVillage.

UKBMD updates

Slowly and steadily data is added to the various sites grouped under the UKBMD heading. So far this month there have been additions for Bath (1), Lancashire (3), Cheshire (2), Staffordshire (2), Yorkshire (4), with anything from a handful to, in the latest update from Lancashire, more than 75,000 entries.

These are based on the local civil registration records which, being closer to the source, are less liable to error than the GRO records.

Ancestry update London Poor Law records

Ancestry announce an update to their collection of images of a variety of records for London area Poor Law records for 1430-1973, including: Admission and discharge books of workhouses; and registers of individuals in the infirmary; creed; school; children boarded out or sent to various other institutions; apprentices; lunatics; servants; children; relief to wives and children; inmates; indoor poor; deserted children. There are other miscellaneous records too.

These are browse files. You first select one of 28 Boroughs (including unknown). Then choose the Parish or Poor Law Union, for Tower Hamlets there are five. Finally choose the Record Type, there are five for Bethnal Green. If you choose Order for Removal for Record Type there are nine date ranges for Settlement and Relief with 106 pages to browse for 1879 - 1882.

You need a pretty shrewd idea of what you're looking for, or a lot of time and patience, preferable both, to make this useful.

23 October 2012

LAC to be an important part of the Canadian Museum of History

In response to a question in Parliament on Monday Heritage Minister James Moore may have let slip a change in LAC's reporting relationship. If so expect more soon.

Pierre Nantel: Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the Conservatives came to power, they have done their best to undermine Library and Archives Canada. Their cuts and neglect are jeopardizing the preservation of thousands of historic documents.

If the Conservatives really love Canadian history, they must protect our archives. This is about our history and our heritage, which must absolutely be preserved.

The Conservatives would rather rob Peter to pay Paul. Instead of rewriting and politicizing Canadian history, and leaving taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars, can the minister confirm that Library and Archives Canada will maintain complete control over Canadian archives?

James Moore: Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, Library and Archives Canada will actually be an important part of the new Canadian Museum of History as we move forward, because it is the guardian of a lot of our past. It will be a very large part of this project as we move forward.

I hope that the NDP will actually decide to support this initiative, because this is in fact an effort to bring all Canadians together to talk about all of Canada's stories. Therefore, I would hope that my hon. colleague would put away the rhetoric he has used yesterday and today in the House and would work with me and other members of Parliament to make this institution what it should be, which is an institution for all Canadians.

Louis Plamondon: Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives definitely love history, especially when it can be altered to suit their interpretation. Why bother with reality when symbols will do?

The Conservatives are spending tens of millions of dollars to celebrate a war that took place 200 years ago—they are exaggerating its importance, especially to francophones—and now they are changing the mandate and the name of one of the top museums, located in Quebec, in order to glorify the Conservative version of the Canadian identity.

Why do the Conservatives want to politicize history?

James Moore: Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely not the case. We are working with the museum. It makes decisions about its programming independent of the government.

Marie Lalonde, a leader in Canada's museums community, said that, “in partnership with this new museum, local museums will be able to offer their visitors distinctive exhibits and initiatives that would otherwise not be available.”

Our support today for this new project will help all museums across Canada, including Quebec museums. It is unfortunate that the Bloc Québécois continues to be against Quebec.

Montreal cemetery tour - Notre Dame de Neiges

This follows on yesterday's post, which had photos of the tour of Mont Royal cemetery on Sunday, with photos of Notre Dame de Neiges cemetery. 

Of special interest to Quebec and adjacent area genealogists, the monument for the the Gabriel Drouin family.

The resting place of politician Thomas D'Arcy McGee, assassinated on Ottawa's Sparks Street in 1868.

Always check the reverse side of the monument; you may find a family tree.

Or you may find poetry - containing a cryptic message.

Sometimes a genealogist's errors are enough to make an angel weep!

Note: these photos were taken with no indication there may be a prohibition. However, see this item from the Legal Genealogist. Thanks to Brenda Turner for the tip.

Ancestry sold

Ancestry.com has been acquired by an investor group led by European private equity firm Permira for about $1.6 billion, see the Ancestry investor news release at: http://ir.ancestry.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=714983

Major existing shareholder will be retaining an interest as part of the group. The acquisition values the company at $32 per share.

Ancestry.com will release financial results for its third quarter 2012 as previously scheduled on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at approximately 2:00 p.m. MT (4:00 p.m. ET).

Thanks to Mike More and Richard McGregor for tips on this.

22 October 2012

Montreal cemetery tour

Sunday was a cold cloudy day, good for participating in a tour of the two large Montreal cemeteries, Mont Royal and Notre Dame de Neiges conducted by QFHS President Gary Schroder. Starting with Mount Royal.

There was plenty of opportunity to see and photograph the resting places of the prominent, such as this impressive monument to the Molson family.

This monument is to Canada's first Prime Minister born in the country, Sir John Abbott.

Lesley Anderson holds aside the vegetation to permit photographing this memorial to immigrant accidental deaths in 1864.

Another accidental death, this of railway tycoon Charles M Hayes, who died on the Titanic while hurrying to Ottawa for the opening of the Chateau Laurier Hotel, is commemorated in this large family plot.

Tour guide Gary Schroder pauses to admire the view over Montreal from beside a bench dedicated to writer Modecai Richler.

BIFHSGO President Glenn Wright before the memorial to WW1 hero Sir Arthur Currie.

A few photos from Notre Dame de Neiges cemetery tomorrow.

21 October 2012

Time Team History

The termination of the archeology TV series Time Team is announced.

Time Team has a semi-regular spot on TVO at 7pm on Monday evenings. The are additional shows to run in the UK. Delays in bringing the program to Canada likely mean seeing episodes "new" to us for some time.

BBC History Extra podcast

Every week BBC History Magazine brings free content, often interviews related to current BBC history series, in their podcast. The most recent includes Clare Griffiths on how the Second World War affected British agriculture. It's an easy way to keep up with current developments.


20 October 2012

Lay-offs and changes at Library and Archives Canada

There has been to update from LAC, so a post on the situation via the University of Toronto Academic Librarians blog will have to suffice - http://utlibrarians.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/news-from-library-and-archives-canada/

The authorities should know that in the absence of official news other information, perhaps accurate, perhaps not, will proliferate. 

Survey: finding Non-Permanent Active Militia personnel at LAC

Library and Archives Canada have a new blog posting New Finding Aid Online: Non-Permanent Active Militia. It includes 8,799 lower level descriptions which appear to be for individuals.

LAC should be interested in how easy people find this to use. Can you find someone you might be included. Please click on the link above and search for a name of interest, perhaps one in which you have a continuing interest even if you don't expect to find anyone by that name in this collection. Then let us know how easy or challenging you found using the facility by completing the poll below and leaving a comment.

19 October 2012

Ottawa (Gloucester) Tax Assessment Rolls 1855-1919 on Ancestry

Ancestry.ca have added name indexed images of Tax Assessment and Collector Rolls, 1855-1919, for Gloucester Township, the part of Ottawa east of the Rideau River containing, in no particular order, the Governor General's residence at Rideau Hall, the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive, the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, and my home.

According to Ancestry:

This database contains images of both tax assessment and collectors rolls. Tax assessment rolls provided estimates of property values that were used as a basis for municipal taxation. Collectors rolls were used to record taxes paid. Both documents contain similar details, which may include the following:
name of occupier
name of owner
address or lot
value of property
taxes assessed
Forms may indicate include marital status for women, religion, number of children and other breakdowns of residents by age, livestock owned or improvements made to property, and other details related to taxation or population statistics. Tax assessments are useful for both tracing your ancestors’ movements and the details they can provide on a family’s situation.
Browsing casually I found the "population statistics" for 1910  included a count of all people residing on the property, and some records of births and deaths during the year.

A map showing land divisions is useful in understanding the locations within the township. Ancestry doesn't provide that so try the Ontario Country Atlas for Carleton County, Gloucester Township, online from http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/search.htm . Also helpful is the website of the Gloucester Historical Society, especially the list of Early Gloucester Families.

Near my home a large area, including the land now occupied by the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, was settled by William Upton who is recorded in these tax records. You'd never guess his interesting story prior to arrival in Canada told in this article by Mark Jodoin.

Woolwich Cemetery on deceasedonline.com

More good news from Deceased Online. With the addition of nearly 80,000 records for Woolwich Cemetery the company have now completed the full dataset for Royal Borough of Greenwich.

• Woolwich Cemetery, the last of five cemeteries managed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich in South London, has had all records digitised and added to www.deceasedonline.com.
• In total, there are now over 485,000 records for the Royal Borough which includes Eltham Crematorium as well as Charlton, Eltham, Greenwich, Plumstead and Woolwich cemeteries.
• Woolwich Cemetery opened in 1856 and features many military graves as well as some fascinating memorials.
• Read more details about this cemetery and many others within the ‘database coverage’ section on Deceased Online website.
• Victims from London’s worst-ever peacetime disaster are buried and
commemorated at Woolwich and you can read all about this in Emma Jolly’s next blog so register now at: http://deceasedonlineblog.blogspot.co.uk/
• The data for Woolwich Cemetery comprise:
• Grave details indicating those buried in each grave
• Scans of burial registers
• Cemetery maps indicating grave locations
• Some photographs of memorials and headstones

FMP lowers price of 1911 census pageviews

This announcement from findmypast.co.uk enhances access to the 1911 census of England and Wales.

We know how important the 1911 census is for anyone tracing their family tree, so we're giving you free access!
Until 18 November 2012, view a 1911 census transcript for free on findmypast.co.uk – this usually costs 10 credits.
We've also lowered the cost of viewing an original 1911 census image – you'll pay just 5 credits instead of 30.
Even more good news: we always try to offer you the best possible value for money, so when this offer ends on 18 November, we'll permanently reduce the price of viewing the 1911 census to 5 credits for a transcript and 5 credits for an original image.

Library and Archives Canada, Ten Years after the Merger

Julienne Molineaux, a New Zealander interested in public service management and change is the speaker in this webcast of a presentation "Library and Archives Canada, Ten Years After the Merger" at UBC.  The study was instituted when a similar merger was contemplated in New Zealand, although it never occurred.

The vision of Roch Carrier and Ian Wilson in pushing for the new institution, recognizing the significance of digitization for the organizations, is praised. The problems and opportunities presented are reviewed. The question of appropriate skills for a leader of such an organization are touched on.

While no conclusions about the present state of the organization, and it's management, are drawn it is noteworthy that when Molineaux traveled to Ottawa recently she was refused an interview with the present management.

The presentation is available on YouTube. It has been viewed 85 times but should be of interest to those many more people who have lived through the change and are living with the result.

18 October 2012

Pop star related to mass murderer?

Megan Smolenyak, whom nobody would call a genealogical grouch, writes a pointed article in the Huffington Post Enough With the Famous Cousins Already! The same thought occurred the other day when I read a press release that two pop celebrities are tenth cousins. That release could properly have noted the surprising fact that they are more distantly related than they are to most others on this continent and are likely more closely related to notorious mass murderers.

Take Robert William Pickton, born October 24, 1949 at Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, notorious serial murderer. If you have the names Arnal, Bailey, Barkley, Cuddy, Emerton, Hacking, Huggins, or Shea in your family tree you may be related. Don't despair. The relationship is likely as distant, and meaningless, as the relationships trumpeted in the press releases.

Megan's article also struck a chord with Dick Eastman http://goo.gl/G1Nts

Toronto records added to 1861 census on Ancestry

Data from two microfilm reels for the 1861 Census of Canada, C-1106 (St. James’ Ward, Toronto), and C-1110 (St. Patrick’s Ward, Toronto) has been added to the Ancestry site.  The additions are 6,133 records and 1,520 images bringing the new record total to 2,948,892 and image total to 102,257.

OGS monthly branch meetings in Kingston, Ottawa and Trenton

The Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has its monthly meeting on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 10 a.m. when Sandra Joyce will speak about her book The Street Arab, The Story of a British Home Child. Meetings are in the Wilson Room of Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson St. Details: www.ogs.on.ca/kingston

Ottawa Branch meets at 1p.m. at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive, Room 115 when Ron Doering will speak on Defending our Home: Loyalist Families of Dundas County and the Battle of Crysler´s Farm (A War of 1812 Novel) Prof Leighann Neilson will also provide an update on the Canadian Genealogy Survey results. Contact: program@ogsottawa.on.ca

Quinte Branch will meet at the same time, 1p.m., to hear Claire Nabrotzky on Beginning your Family History. Meetings are at the Quinte West City Hall & Library, 7 Creswell Drive, Trenton and starting at 1 p.m. Date: Details: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canqbogs/contact_quinte_ogs.htm/

17 October 2012

A literary view of LAC's decline

Terry Fallis, winner of the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, in conversation with The Biblio File host Nigel Beale speaks, in a moderate tone, of his concerns regarding funding shortfalls at Library and Archives Canada.


Right at the end of the interview Fallis refers to his latest book, Ups and Downs, suggesting he might be a "one trick pony", a reference to criticism that the book is too much like his previous two in style, enjoyable as it may be.

Shannon Lecture: Renumbering the Sensorium: How the Blind Man Lost a Cane and Regained His Senses

The third in this year's Shannon Lecture series at Carleton University on the theme Making Sense: History and the Sensory Past is:

“Renumbering the Sensorium: How the Blind Man Lost a Cane and Regained His Senses”
Georgina Kleege, University of California, Berkeley

October 19, 3:00pm, 303 Paterson Hall, Carleton University

I will begin with a discussion of the figure I call The Hypothetical Blind Man, who has long served as a prop for theories of consciousness. From the Enlightenment to the present, philosophers and cognitive scientists have compared the epistemology and ontology of the normative sighted subject to the experiences of an idealized blind man who is always understood to be both totally and congenitally blind, and to live so far at the margins of society as to have little or no exposure to visual concepts and terminology. Theorists devised a one-to-one correspondence between the two eyes of the sighted man and the two hands of the blind man. If the sighted man is all eyes, the blind man is all hands. It is as if neither man has any other sense experience. . I will compare these theoretical treatments of blindness to autobiographical accounts by blind writers, artists, scientists and philosophers. These accounts affirm the significance of touch in blind experience, but also complicate our understanding of tactile and haptic sensation. I will also consider their descriptions of other sense experiences. In all these instances the point is not that blind people are endowed with supernaturally enhanced sensation, rather they develop techniques of heightened attention and interpretation. At the same time, they demonstrate the many ways that the senses work in combination and counterpoint. Finally, I will suggest that our traditional understanding of five discrete sensory modalities is inadequate to describe the diversity of human sensory experience.

Georgina Kleege joined the English department at the University of California, Berkeley in 2003 where in addition to teaching creative writing classes she teaches courses on representations of disability in literature, and disability memoir.  Her collection of personal essays, Sight Unseen (1999) is a classic in the field of disability studies.  Essays include an autobiographical account of Kleege’s own blindness, and cultural critique of depictions of blindness in literature, film, and language.  Many of these essays are required reading for students in disability studies, as well as visual culture, education, public health, psychology, philosophy and ophthalmology.  Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller (2006) transcends the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction to re-imagine the life and legacy of this celebrated disability icon.  Kleege’s current work is concerned with blindness and visual art: how blindness is represented in art, how blindness affects the lives of visual artists, how museums can make visual art accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired.  She has lectured and served as consultant to art institutions around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.

16 October 2012

RCMP obits, 1876-2007

FamilySearch has uploaded browse files under the title Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police obituary card index and notices, 1876-2007

Digital images of an obituary card index and the obituary section of selected periodicals located in the RCMP Heritage Collections Unit, Regina, Saskatchewan. Contains the obituary sections from the following Royal Canadian Mounted Police publications: Royal Canadian Mounted Police quarterly (title varies), 1933-2007; Pony express : Staff Relations Branch newsletter, 1976-1994; and Scarlet and gold (Royal Canadian Mounted Police Veterans' Association. Vancouver Division), 1919-1997. Includes the honour roll section, p. 250-253, covering deaths of those RCMP killed while on duty, 1876-1971, from the following book: The pictorial history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police / S.W. Horrall ; foreword by W.L. Higgitt. Toronto, Ontario : McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1973.

Find the person of interest in the obituary card index which give a reference to the appropriate publication which may include the following information:
Name of deceased
Date and place of death
Age at death
Date and place of birth
Residence at time of death
Brief description of service

 The index was created by a retired officer, Norman G. Wilson

Comapring family history and DNA for assessing disease risk

An article Comparison of Family History and SNPs for Predicting Risk of Complex Disease in PLOS Genetics. The abstract states that:

..family history is most useful for highly common, heritable conditions (e.g., coronary artery disease), where it explains roughly 20%–30% of disease heritability, on par with the most successful SNP (genetic) models based on associations discovered to date. In contrast, we find that for diseases of moderate or low frequency (e.g., Crohn disease) family history accounts for less than 4% of disease heritability, substantially lagging behind SNPs in almost all cases. 
In the body of the article that conclusion is made more explicit:
current SNP-based risk models outperform complete family history for 13 out of 23 conditions and outperform restricted family history (where not all information is known) for 16 out of 23 conditions, with the magnitude of the differences in performance greatest for diseases of low frequency.
However, it's not an either or proposition:
...comparisons of family history and SNP-based methods aimed at declaring one method categorically superior to the other create a false dichotomy: in general, there is no need to choose between family history and genetic risk profiling. An understanding of both types of information would allow us to obtain a better picture of an individual's potential future health. 
While this study examines the impact of having incomplete family history health information it does not examine the situation where such information is erroneous.

Free introductory family history session

Connect with your past at Nepean Centrepointe Branch of the Ottawa Public Library, Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

A free session with Brooke Broadbent and Margaret Singleton who will show you:

• how to create a family history legacy,

• how to build on genealogical research, and

• the benefits of learning about your family roots.

They will discuss what motivated them to delve into their own family histories and share the processes they followed.

Registration required: Call 613-580-2710 or register on-line at: http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/main/program

15 October 2012

Heritage Ottawa Lecture

The House of Commons Heritage Collection

Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 7:00 pm

Location: Ottawa Public Library Auditorium,

120 Metcalfe St., corner of Laurier Ave. W.,

The House of Commons Heritage Collection is comprised of over 5,000 artifacts consisting of unique examples of fine art, the decorative arts, and associated artifacts. The importance of the collection rests in its value as a record of the material culture of the House of Commons, parliamentary democracy in Canada, and the development of Canadian society as a whole. The lecture by David Monaghan, Curator of the House of Commons, will explore the origins, character and use of the House of Commons Heritage Collection with particular emphasis on the period following the fire of 1916

Info: 613-230-8841 or www.heritageottawa.org

Perth Historical Society October Meeting

The War of 1812 on the Lower St. Lawrence
The Battle of Crysler's Farm

For its October meeting, the Perth Historical Society will enter the terrifying world of the Canadians along the St. Lawrence River as they faced the largest American army to attack our country in the War of 1812.  Ronald L. Doering, Ottawa lawyer and former senior Federal deputy minister, will present his recently published historical novel “Defending Our Homeland - Loyalist families of Dundas County and the Battle of Crysler's Farm" – bringing the war to the lower St. Lawrence doorstep.

Accounts of 1812-1814 often focus on the well-known land and water battles from Queenston Heights and York to Lake Ontario.  However, in the fall of 1813 the Americans organized for a two-pronged attack in the east that had the potential to take the St. Lawrence from Prescott to Montreal - and decide the war.  At the far east the eventual Canadian victory at Chateaugay, south of Montreal, turned aside one half of the assault.  To the west, an American force of 8,000 sailed from Sacket’s Harbour, and crossed into Canada east of Prescott.  A British-Canadian detachment, from Kingston and Prescott, caught up to them near Crysler’s farm.  On November 11, 1813, outnumbered by four to one, the combined force of several British regiments and Royal Artillery, the Canadian Voltigeurs, Fencibles, Dundas militia, Mohawks, and possibly Leeds Militia won the day.

Mr. Doering’s novel develops a Canadian story behind these St. Lawrence battles, of Dundas County loyalist families who, having lost their homes 30 years earlier in the American Revolutionary War, are threatened once again.   The story describes the skirmishes along the Canadian shore of the St. Lawrence River, culminating in the dramatic Battle of Crysler’s Farm, seen through the eyes of a young Dundas County militiaman Thomas Marselis.  Mr. Doering will use the novel as the basis to explore a number of historiographical myths that, in his view, require re-balance.  

The meeting is on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the Perth Museum, at 11 Gore Street E. in Perth.  (“Toonie Fee”). For further information call David Taylor (613-264 0094) or Ellen Dean (613-264 8362)

Back to Our Past News from Dublin

The annual Irish genealogy conference Back to Our Past has just concluded in Dublin. To catch up on the news from BTOP read Claire Santry's posts on her Irish Genealogy News blog here and here.
Claire writes she'll have a final post on Monday concentrating on Ancestry with some exciting news.  To find out what it is go to Claire's blog at http://irish-genealogy-news.blogspot.co.uk/

14 October 2012

Ontario Library Week

October is Library Month in Canada while Ontario designates October 14 - 20 as Library Week. Librarians, and archivists, are genealogist's best friends so we celebrate with them, even in these challenging times.

How many errors in your genealogy?

If you think your carefully-researched genealogy is error free -- that's a delusion! It's not a question of whether there are errors but how many.

If there are 1000 people in your family tree, each with say ten facts: first name, last name, father's name, mother's name, birth date, birth place, marriage date, marriage place, spouse name, death date, death place, that's already more than ten and you could add many more. With 10,000 facts if you have 99.9% confidence each fact is correct then 10 will likely be erroneous.

The error rate will escalate massively if you made an error in identifying the parent - such as hiding an illegitimate birth by claiming a young woman's child was her mother's - which makes all upstream facts incorrect.

Even DNA evidence has problems, as explained in an article 'DNA evidence, far from an open and shut case' in the UK Guardian newspaper. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/oct/14/vaughan-bell-on-science-forensics

The influence of these biases is likely to have a much wider effect than just on fingerprint analysis. Dror notes that they could affect any area where "the human examiner is the main instrument of analysis", including fingerprinting, DNA, CCTV images, firearms and document examination. "The contextual influences are many and they come in many forms," says Dror. "Many… [if not] most of the forensic areas are vulnerable." These warnings have met with a frosty welcome from many forensic scientists who, despite the evidence, have balked at the suggestion that they could be anything less than objective.
 Would the welcome from professional genealogists assiduously following the genealogical proof standard be any less frosty?

Has the internet replaced the genealogical society and the archive?

The latest post on the Genealogy in Canada blog claims to continue a discussion of "Why Belong to a Genealogy Society" building on the results of the results of the Canadian Genealogy Survey.

While the post does come back to that topic the major part is on a PhD dissertation which, while interesting, only skirts the topic.

Only in the post's final paragraph do we learn that from the Canadian survey:

"Most of the respondents to the survey indicated that archives were seldom used and genealogical societies were not seen to be very relevant. Instead, new-age genealogists are smitten with the on-line resources without troubling to think about where those records come from."
Read the post at http://genealogyincanada.blogspot.ca/2012/10/why-belong-to-genealogical-society-contd.html 

13 October 2012

Ancestry adds geographic reference materials for England

A further selection of browse-only reference books are added to the Ancestry collection, the largest being the topographical volumes on Kent and Norfolk.

England, County Maps, 1695-1940
World Atlas, 1844
Emigration Atlas 1852
Topographical History of Norfolk, 1739
The New Lancashire Gazetteer or Topographical Dictionary, 1830
The Railway and Commercial Gazetteer of England, Scotland and Wales 1907
A Topographical and Historical Description of Nottinghamshire, 1810
A Topographical and Historical Description of the County of Buckingham, 1804
Deacon's Court Guide and Gazetteer of Devon
Atlas of London and Suburbs, 1917
Topography and Gazetteer of England, 1831
The History and Topographical Survey of Kent, 1793
Worcestershire, Magna Britannia 1721 with Modern map
Royal Atlas of England & Wales 1895
Gazetteer of Great Britain & Ireland, 1898

A challenge at the British Newspaper Archive

Take a peek behind the curtain to see a problem the folks of the British Newspaper Archive wrestled with when digitizing an unusually formatted newspaper.


St Helens and Newton-le-Willows Deceased Search

There are over 10,000 burial and cremation records from St Helens Crematorium, St Helens and Newton-le-Willows Cemeteries, Lancashire, with an index available free at http://crem.oltps.sthelens.gov.uk/.

Enter is a surname or part of a surname to search. You can also enter a forename and / or a date range to narrow the search results.

This appear to be based on Deceased Search, a facility from Gower Consultants, the company behind Deceased Online.

12 October 2012

WW1 survey

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been speaking about plans for commemorating the Great War which started in 1914. They include allocating over 50 million pounds for school visits to WW1 battlefields, funding for a transformation of the Imperial War Museum and, a major programme of national commemorative events "properly funded and given the proper status they deserve"

So far Canada's government has made no announcement.

How significant was the Great War for your family history? Please answer the poll and leave a comment on how Canada should mark the occasion.

Online Poll @ FluidSurveys.com...

Survey Software by FluidSurveys.com

Top low-cost genealogy Ebooks

If you have an Ereader, and 25% of North Americans do according to recent statistics, you'll have noticed the phenomenon of low cost Ebooks. Let's have a look at the five top ranked genealogy titles at less than $5 in the Kindle store according to their stats. To be included here they each had to have a sales rank better than 100,000 or rating greater than 3.5. I only included titles with two or more ratings.

The table is ordered by price. Notice there's no apparent correlation between price, rating, number of pages or sales rank. Sales rank swings wildly; the figure in the table was found on the evening on Wednesday 10 October - it's likely considerably different now!

Rating (out of 5)
Publication date
Sales Rank
Rochelle Reben, Beth Jane Reben

Aug 15, 2011

Mark W Swarthout




Jul 30, 2012


Nancy Hendrickson

Mar 10, 2011


Nancy Hendrickson



Jun 23, 2010


M. D. Healy


Dec 31, 2011


Click the book title to find out more.

With the exception of the Irish book these are all US-oriented although with considerable content more widely applicable.

Two books on this list are authored by Nancy Hendrickson, a contributing editor of the (US) Family Tree Magazine. According to her web-site her books are repurposed from the many magazine articles previously published. She has 13 titles in all, 10 of which relate to history or family history. Only one sells for over $5.

There are no British or Canadian books on the list.

British introductory genealogy is served by Branching Out: How To Research Your Family's History by Simon Fowler priced at $2.99. It will get you going, an introduction leading to his Family History: Digging Deeper also in a Kindle version at $13.12.

There's no introductory Canadian genealogy book - an opportunity for some enterprising Canadian genealogist-writer. The specialist Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War by Michael O'Leary looks interesting at 221 pages selling for only $1.99